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How to Advocate for Mental Health in College: Real Students’ Stories

In a college mental health crisis, students are speaking up. Find out how students are advocating for mental health on their campuses.

by Lyss Welding Published on April 14, 2022 · Updated on May 7, 2022

  • College mental health is declining, but student advocates are speaking up.
  • You can join a mental health advocacy initiative or start your own.
  • Student advocates recommend caring for your own mental health first.

In 2018, Francesca Reicherter survived suicide for the first time. She credits her uncle for saving her life by talking to her about mental health. Weeks later, her uncle died by suicide, and Reicherter began a long journey of misdiagnosis and mistreatment for what she would later learn was bipolar 2 disorder.

“We don’t talk enough about mental illness or grow up talking about it in a way that helps us know how to advocate,” Reicherter said.

Just because we don’t talk about mental health disorders or conditions doesn’t mean they’re not prevalent.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that mental health disorders occur more among 18-to-25-year-olds than in other age groups. What’s more, the pandemic has worsened the college mental health crisis.

But some students are leading the charge to fight against stigma. Check out their stories for examples and advice on how to advocate for mental health on your campus.

5 Ways to Advocate for Mental Health in College

Whether you’re drawn to speaking, writing, or something out of the box, there are many ways college students can get involved in mental health advocacy. Here are a few ideas.

1. Share Your Story

Today, Reicherter speaks out to fight stigma. She founded Inspiring My Generation, a nonprofit with the mission to save lives by raising awareness for mental health, early symptom detection, and suicide prevention.

“What worked for me personally was sharing my story. First, it was just writing it down on a piece of paper — and then crumbling it up,” Reicherter said. “It turned into posting a blog and getting responses from other people. Then I started talking about it and slowly sharing my story as I felt comfortable.”

Why It Works

Reicherter said speaking out normalizes your mental wellness for yourself and promotes confidence in others to take care of themselves.

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